Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Grading the Chakrabarti report

The launch of yesterday’s report of the Shami Chakrabarti inquiry was a missed opportunity for Labour. This had little to do with the author of the report – which I will come to in a minute – but the behaviour of the leader. To use such an event as an advertorial for his leaders ‘eyes …’ was laughable. Equally to have attacks on Be-Leavers like Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage for their ‘dog whistle … [no] flog horn’ racism in the recent EU referendum campaign but no condemnation of the former mayor of London Ken Livingstone – who triggered this inquiry in the first place – or Jackie Walker of Momentum who suggested that Jews paid for the slave trade was pathetic party politics and left the Labour leader wanting. Leadership is calling out your own side not just your opponents. Then, an at best a poor choice of words resulted in Emily Thornberry – the new shadow foreign secretary – calling the Israeli Ambassador on the leader’s behalf to apologise for any offence caused by perceived comparisons between Israel and Daesh. 

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Richard Angell

is director of Progress


  • Richard

    John Mann has also welcomed the report over on Labour List and also wanted JLM involvment. However, there are 2 problems with your and his suggestion, as posted in my earlier comments, reproduced below:

    1. John,

    Shami Chakrabarti was explicit that there should not be any hierarchy of racism, with one form being regarded as less important than another. You, Richard Angell and others have suggested that the JLM is the only body that can define antisemitism and this is the only paragraph, in your article, with which I would disagree.

    It cannot be permitted that a particular organisation can unilaterally set the definition of an antisemitic incident. This could negate the requirement for all forms of racism to be treated equally and previous attempts to establish a working definition have been problematic – such as the (now abandoned) EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism.

    We should Never adopt a position where a justified criticism of Israeli policy or actions can be shut down if someone merely claims that they perceive this to be antisemitic! Providing that the standards are uniform, for dealing with all forms of racism, then this does not preclude the JLM but any setting of a lower threshold for antisemitism, in particular, should be firmly resisted

    2. The report recommends that the NCC not the NEC is the investigatory and disciplinary body so your suggestion is not consistent and the recommendation improves on the current system.

  • It’s a shame John Mann didn’t condemn the racist Chakrabarti and the report for sweeping Anglophobia under the carpet. The unfortunate fact is that Labour members (even MPs) feel free to make repulsive remarks about English people in the full knowledge that their actions will go completely unpunished. For example, you might well remember what the loathsome bigot Jack Straw said on BBC radio about 15-16 years ago. If he’d made that unjustifiable and inflammatory statement about Irish or black people, for example, he’d have been arrested for his hate crimes, and rightly so. Yes, it’s good that minority groups get protection from bigotry and discrimination, but if the same protection isn’t given to the majority, something’s clearly badly wrong. When we talk about bigotry and discrimination, we have to ensure that NO form of bigotry or discrimination is ever allowed. NO exceptions ever, and NO ifs or buts.

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